A Bad Habit You Didn’t Know You Had

If you have been in the Military for a few years, you may have received some instruction on the Military writing style. I recall learning some of the basics from a former Company Commander as well as what they taught us in the Infantry Officer Advanced Course. This training proved valuable later in my career when I worked in staff positions for higher-level Commanders with exacting standards when it came to writing Performance Evaluations, Memoranda, Operating Procedures, and other documents on their behalf. Over the years, I have tried to pass on those lessons to junior Officers and Soldiers with whom I worked.

Years after separating from the Army, I realized I’d also picked up a pretty bad habit in my writing. It’s a habit that I would be willing to bet you suffer from as well. Quite simply: military people love to capitalize everything! You probably do it without even thinking. Don’t believe me? Reread the first paragraph of this post and see how many unnecessary capitals I used. I’d guess that you read the paragraph without even noticing them. See the point?

Be mindful of this bad habit when writing your resume. While it seems normal to you, a civilian who reads “Soldier” starting with a capital letter might find it unusual at best, a typographical error at worst. The simple lesson here is to use the same capitalization rules that you learned back in middle school. It won’t be easy at first, but you can overcome it (even after 19 years, I still catch myself doing it).

On a related note, avoid using ALL CAPS in the resume’s body. This is typically done when candidates are citing specific military operations, commands, or ships. Examples: OPERATION INHERENT RESOLVE, UNITED STATES PACIFIC COMMAND, USS RONALD REAGAN, etc. While proper in the military, those capital letters can be distracting to civilians. We recommend capitalizing each word instead.

Like any habit, this one can be hard to break. I recommend writing as you normally would without worrying too much about capitalization. But when you go back to proofread your writing, do a single reading where you are only trying to identify incorrectly capitalized words. Because if you don’t look for them, you probably won’t see them.